Film Reviews (written)

The 2019 Oscar Nominations Are Here, and There.

The preliminary votes have been cast and we have our official list of nominations for the 2019 Oscars, folks. If you follow me on Twitter, (Brunansky’s Vlog) you saw that I tweeted out some of the categories with nominations. I was surprised by one or two categories (which we’ll take a look at) but overall I wasn’t that aghast at what I read. To be honest, I didn’t even utter a single word aloud in shock or awe.

In general, the list of nominations feels appropriate for where the Media is in America. I do agree that some of these films and the individuals who worked on them did a phenomenal job and they deserve the recognition, but, maybe not all of them. It’s no surprise, or secret, that Hollywood has always had a liberal bias. In fact, if you study the history of Hollywood you know that Communism, Socialism and Liberalism have always been driving forces behind much of the Film Industries behind the scenes dealings. If you don’t believe me just google “McCarthy Hearings” and “Hollywood 10” to see how many “Hollywooders” were black listed for their political far left leanings back in the day. As a life long Conservative, who’s been in the performing arts arena his entire life, it’s one of those things you just come to expect. Let’s dive into these categories and I’ll share my thoughts on the nominations and who I think is favored to win, as well as, who might be just a political nomination. Let’s get spicy, folks!

*Predicted Winners

First up, Best Original Screenplay.

This category is for movies whose stories were not based on previously published material. So, these stories are completely fresh from beginning to end and not taken from short stories, or books, etc.

First Reformed (Paul Schrader)

Green Book (Brian Hayes Currie, Peter Farrelly and Nick Vallelonga)

Roma (Alfonso Cuaron)

The Favourite (Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara)

Vice (Adam McKay)

This film was nominated for the WGA Best Original Screenplay and considering how many other awards this film has been nominated for, I won’t be surprised to see it win in this category.

Next, Best Adapted Screenplay.

This category is for the movies that were adapted from another source, like books, short stories, etc and then turned into a movie.

A Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters and Eric Roth)

BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee, David Rabinowitz, Charlie Wachtel and Kevin Willmott)

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty)

If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins)

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen)

I’m calling this as a surprise winner. Let’s say this is a Wild Card pick. This film wasn’t nominated for the WGA Best Adapted Screenplay and is the only film in this category not listed for that award. Something is telling me, despite that fact, it might surprise everyone at the end of the day and pull the win.

Best Original Song.

This is a brand new song written specifically for the film.

“All the Stars” (Black Panther, written by Kendrick Lamar, Sounwave, SZA and Anthony Tiffith) Performed by Kendrick Lamar and SZA

“I’ll Fight” (RBG, written by Diane Warren) Performed by Jennifer Hudson

“Shallow” (A Star Is Born, written by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando and Andrew Wyatt) Performed by Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga

“The Place Where Lost Things Go” (Mary Poppins Returns, written by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman) Performed by Emily Blunt

“When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, written by Dave Rawlings and Gillian Welch) Performed by Tim Blake Nelson and Willie Watson

I might be wrong on this one because it’s entirely possible “The Place Where Lost Things Go” could pick this up. However, this song has been getting the A+ treatment since the films release. I will be very surprised if it doesn’t win. If you haven’t enjoyed this soundtrack, you should. The entire soundtrack is pretty good. Check it out.

Best Original Score.

The body of music written specifically for a film. It helps develop and build emotional moments for the audience to enjoy.

Black Panther (Ludwig Goransson)

BlacKkKlansman (Terence Blanchard)

If Beale Street Could Talk (Nicholas Britell)

Isle of Dogs (Alexandre Desplat)

Mary Poppins Returns (Marc Shaiman)

The music in this film was pure magnificence. It built on every moment that was unfolding on screen and helped elevate the sad, the happy, the dramatic, the humorous, and the intense moments wonderfully. The music in this film didn’t just have to be appropriate to the story, like all scores should, but it had to deliver on the “feeling” of Disney and Mary Poppins. Out of these 5 films, this one had the largest expectation to deliver upon and I think it did just that.

Best Production Design.

The team that works on creating a believable world for these stories to take place in. Every scene the characters of the story move through has been shaped by this category and without the hard work of these individuals, the actors would all just be standing on a stage, void of any detail, color and life.

Black Panther (Hannah Beachler and Jay Hart)

First Man (Nathan Crowley and Kathy Lucas)

Mary Poppins Returns (John Myhre and Gordon Sim)

Roma (Eugenio Caballero and Barbara Enriquez)

The Favourite (Fiona Crombie and Alice Felton)

This is tough because “The Favourite” and “Black Panther” both had solid design. I think this category is a pretty close race. However, for the same reasons mentioned above for Score, I feel this is why we’ll see “Mary Poppins Returns” win out in this category.

Best Costume Design.

Here we get to see the artistry that goes into bringing the fashion of the period and time of the film to life. Attention to detail for medieval films, science-fiction future epics, modern super-heroes, Rom-Coms and more. Do the clothes on the characters make sense or are they an absurd distraction? This category brings another element of storytelling to life and without these talented individuals the actors might as well just wear potato sacks while quoting Shakespeare in the park.

Black Panther (Ruth E. Carter)

Mary Poppins Returns (Sandy Powell)

Mary Queen of Scots (Alexandra Byrne)

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Mary Zophres)

The Favourite (Sandy Powell)

I don’t know if there is a much clearer choice for a victor in this category. The work that went into creating the fashion of this world was incredibly thought out. Ruth Carter didn’t just have to create another superhero costume, but, she had to blend the past, the present and the future of an entire nation into a complex, and visually striking design. This category is competitive but I still feel like she’ll run away with the win here.

Best Visual Effects.

This team works to bring the lightsabers, the blasters, the armies of Mordor, a trip through space with a talking raccoon, a reporter who turns into a giant black spider that eats people, and more to life. The fantastical worlds that are created on screen to make every film feel believable is what we’re talking about. It could be something as simple as adding a building to a downtown panoramic shot or as complicated as turning Andy Serkis into an Ape that battles the last of mankind. All the people that make the special effects come to life, no matter how obvious or subtle, are what we’re celebrating in this category.

Avengers: Infinity War

Christopher Robin

First Man

Ready Player One

Solo: A Star Wars Story

I think we have three strong contenders in this category. But, I’m gonna say that “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Solo: A Star Wars Story” don’t quite reach the levels of incredible world building we got in “Ready Player One.” If you watch the behind the scenes on these films and you see the enormity of work that went into bringing these stories to life on the big screen you understand why this category is competitive. However, Spielberg’s team that worked the VFX did a pretty spectacular job. They blended a futuristic real world story with a video game treasure hunt and both aspects looked great in my opinion.

Best Cinematography.

The Director may yell “Action!” but it’s their Cinematographer (or DP) that helps bring the film to life. The artistry behind knowing which lenses work best in which circumstances, as well as, how lighting can create mood and tension, are essential elements in movie making. Without the Cinematographer we might as well just have the Directors yelling “Action!” and “Cut!” at our potato sack wearing actors in the park.

A Star Is Born (Matty Libatique)

Cold War (Lukasz Zal)

Never Look Away (Caleb Deschanel)

Roma (Alfonso Cuaron)

The Favourite (Robbie Ryan)

This is a tough category to predict. While “The Favourite” did have some beautifully shot scenes and obviously unique choices with regard to camera angles, I think “A Star Is Born” delivered the goods. This film had the challenge of capturing live performances on stage, as well as, trying to capture intimate moments between performers, family, etc. It wasn’t just a straight forward story that takes place in downtowns, parks and apartments. We had to go on a journey through life as a rock star and pop star, while never sacrificing the part of the individuals that make them human, their flaws, their feelings and their universal struggles. I think Matty Libatigue did a great job capturing all of this story in a way that felt like we were right there with these individuals every step of the way.

Best Director.

We joke about how the Directors job is only to yell “Action!” and “Cut!” but we know that without these talented story-tellers we wouldn’t get the quality of films we got last year and previous years. The Director is the visionary who knows how to communicate to every individual, to every team, and department the story. They know the inner workings of the technical aspects just as much as how to evoke believable emotional performances from their talented actors. The costumers, the VFX teams, the Cinematographers, the actors are all talented but without the guiding hand of the Director to move everyone towards the finish line, we’d have nothing but cat videos on YouTube, GIFS of Squirrels fighting each other with lightsabers on Twitter and random men and women screaming, crying and laughing in public with no direction as to why that moment was the proper moment for that outburst.

Adam McKay (Vice)

Alfonso Cuaron (Roma)

Pawel Pawlikowski (Cold War)

Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman)

Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite)

I was a fan of “Vice” in just about every regard. I knew the story would be engaging and enlightening. I did not know how well constructed, shot and acted it would be. This is a competitive category as well but I will be surprised if McKay loses to Yorgos or Alfonso. I think this year is the year for McKay. And since at the top of this article we talked about the politics of the Academy, I hate to say it, but, I think the current climate of thinking that all non-liberal white guys are Nazi’s is one of the contributing factors to Spike Lee getting nominated here. I could be wrong. But, with Hollywood’s most recent attack on non-liberal white men, I find it hard to believe Spike Lee’s film about beating the Ku Klux Klan isn’t a tip of the hat to their current political ideology.

Best Actor & Actress.

The talented individuals that can create believable performances of completely fictitious people or creatures, as well as, recreating the lives of real individuals who walked the earth. Here we recognize their talent, both male and female.

Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born)

Christian Bale (Vice)

Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody)

Viggo Mortensen (Green Book)

Willem Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate)

Glenn Close (The Wife)

Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born)

Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)

Olivia Colman (The Favourite)

Yalitza Aparicio (Roma)

These are both very, very competitive categories. When we look over the men and women who really shined the brightest in their respective roles it is clear that this will be a very tough call. I really enjoyed Rami Malek’s performance, despite the failures I saw in the film, he did a great job. The same can be said for Mellisa McCarthy as well. She did a great job while the rest of the film suffered in other areas. However, Christian Bale and Olivia Colman really deliver incredible performances that were memorable. I think they both did such a great job that when you leave the theater you can’t help but talk more about their performances. The believability they both deliver was Grade A. However, I won’t be surprised if I’m wrong on both accounts.

Finally, Best Picture.

The years best film overall. Everything that goes into making these stories come to life on the big screen was so good and so noteworthy we consider them the best of the year. Everything we’ve looked at already in this article, working together so perfectly, we sit back and say aloud, “Now that was the years best.”

A Star Is Born


Black Panther

Bohemian Rhapsody

Green Book


The Favourite


For all the reasons I think McCay will win Best Director are the reasons I think this film will win Best Picture. The movie delivers compelling characters, with a story that spans decades. The artistry that went into moving us from Point A to Point B with simple explanations for complex topics was spectacular. I think they really went for a home run swing on this film and I think they nailed it. That being said, “BlackkKlansman” and “Black Panther” both feel like odd men out in this category. I enjoyed “Black Panther” and the world that was created, but, let’s be honest, if Marvel Studios and Disney weren’t behind the last minute push for this films nomination I don’t think we’d be here right now. I don’t believe this film had all the stars align to make this Best Picture worthy by any means what-so-ever. Again, I credit the Mouse House and their incredible influence getting this film the votes it needed to be nominated instead of saying that this film was so good it deserved the nomination. In the 10 years of Marvel Studios, this film is absolutely, hands down, not the best they’ve put out. I still hold “Captain America: Winter Soldier” over this film as a better overall movie, all day, every day. And again, “BlackkKlansman” just feels like the political ideology of the moment helping bump the votes to get the nomination so more people talk about it.

In Closing…

There are still other categories that we didn’t explore. If you wish to keep that conversation going in the comments section, feel free to share your thoughts on Documentaries, Animated Films, etc. Plus, we didn’t even mention how Bradley Cooper wasn’t nominated for Best Director for “A Star Is Born.” Not sure what happened there, folks. Weird. Wild stuff. Anywho, this article was long enough and I know you have a life outside of reading my thoughts or watching me on YouTube at Brunansky’s Vlog. Thanks for spending some time with me today.

Will my predictions be correct? We’ll have to wait and see…

Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you’re here.

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